Khao Sam Kaeo

Khao Sam Kaeo
An Early Port-City between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea

Edited by Bérénice Bellina

Édition: EFEO
Collection : Mémoires archéologiques
Numéro de collection: 28
ISBN-13 : 978 2 85539 427 5
21 x 28 cm, 675 p., Ill., English
Prix : 65,00 €

Two thousand years ago, the Wu Emperor of China sent south a naval expedition to seek opportunities to increase trade. The leaders en-countered a Southeast Asian kingdom, with an established government, laws, cities and flourishing trade with India and Rome. The expedition report survives in the Chinese dynastic archives, and poses a fascinating challenge to archaeologists: what was the nature of this maritime Silk Road, when did it begin, what manner of people ran it, and how did it affect their lives? Answers to these key questions are now emerging from five years of excavations and a decade of intense analyses that centre on the Kra Isthmus, the narrow neck of land that provides the easiest passage between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. Here, the trade route is dominated by the urban centre of Khao Sam Kaeo, a sprawling settlement atop four hills, next to the Tha Tapao River. For the first time in Southeast Asia, a multidisciplinary project involving geoarchaeology, botany and metallurgy, combined with geographical information systems, has been deployed to unravel the timing of the emergence of the maritime Silk Road and its social impact. We have found that its origins are far earlier than suspected, stretching back into the 4th century BC. Over the centuries, Khao Sam Kaeo became a cosmopolitan hub that drew merchants and artisans from India and other Asian horizons. Gold and silver, carnelian and glass jewellery came from new workshops. In the fields beyond the city walls, new crops of Indian origin were grown alongside the traditional rice fields. Chinese ceramics, Vietnamese bronzes, even Roman tradewares made their way to the markets of Southeast Asia. The vital importance of Khao Sam Kaeo in documenting and illuminating the early maritime trade is seen in the later rise of states like Pasai, Banten, Melaka and Ayutthaya. Here again, on a magnified scale, there were highly specialised manufacturing industries con-trolled by powerful kings. Revealing the deep seated cultural changes that took place at Khao Sam Kaeo thus illuminates for the first time a critical stage in the history of Southeast Asia.

Commander l’ouvrage



Bérénice Bellina with the collaboration of Praon Silapanth



The Geography of the Upper Peninsula and the Palaeo Environment of Khao Sam Kaeo Geoarchaeology Landscape Formation and Transformation
S. Jane Allen

Archaeobotany Evidence of Exchange Networks and Agricultural Practices
Cristina Castillo

Resin Identification
by GC-MS Pauline Burger, Armelle Charrié-Duhaut, Jacques Connan & Pierre Albrecht



The Settlement of Khao Sam Kaeo Morphology and Dimensions
Bérénice Bellina & Vincent Bernard

Settlement’s Organisation: Locating Different Activities
Bérénice Bellina & Vincent Bernard

Chronological Sequence of the Occupation
Bérénice Bellina-Pryce

Spatial Analysis of an Early Port-City
Julie Malakie & Andrew Bevan



Study of Socio-Technical Systems Local and Regional Pottery Traditions
Phaedra Bouvet

Indian Fine Wares Phaedra Bouvet Lustrous Black and Red Wares
Phaedra Bouvet

Rotative Kinetic Energy-Produced Pottery
Phaedra Bouvet

The South China Sea-Related Ceramics
Aude Favereau, Bérénice Bellina, Guillaume Épinal & Phaedra Bouvet

The Han Ceramics
Sophie Peronnet & Sachipan Srikanlaya

Maritime Silk Roads Stone Ornament Industries
Bérénice Bellina

Nephrite and Mica Industries: A Link towards the Austronesian World
Hsiao-chun Hung & Yoshiyuki Iizuka

Stone Adzes Corpus
Tessa Boer-Mah

The Metallurgical Industries
Thomas Oliver Pryce, Mercedes Murillo-Barroso, Lynn Biggs, Marcos Martinón-Torres & Bérénice Bellina

Glass from an Early Southeast Asian Producing and Trading Centre
Laure Dussubieux & Bérénice Bellina

Stone Seals and Intaglios from Khao Sam Kaeo
Brigitte Borell with contributions by Harry Falk



Khao Sam Kaeo: A Cosmopolitan Port-City or City-State in the South China Sea? The Beginning of the Urban Narratives in South and Southeast Asia
Bérénice Bellina

Was Khao Sam Kaeo a Cosmopolitan City and an Incipient City-State?
Bérénice Bellina

Bérénice Bellina